This may sound like an Old Navy Father’s Day commercial, but dads are great. And just like all children who had a secure and comfortable childhood, I like to think that my dad is the greatest. Even if the most exotic land I had ever traveled with my family was a trip to Disneyworld when I was 7, my dad was able to prep me with the travel skills no guidebook can teach you.
A Sense of Humor
When you travel, things will go wrong. You could spend hours meticulously planning every single second of your trip, and the travel gods will look at your pathetic to-do list, laugh in your face, and proceed to ruin everything. To deal with the harshness of reality, a healthy dose of cynical humor can make even the dreariest of moments seem funny, at least, in a detached, ironic sort of way.
It’s useful in most cities, but essential in Amsterdam. Thanks for taking me out to ride my bike after work, dad! You could have spent that time watching a sports thing on television but you chose to spend it watching me ride my bike in circles around you in hot, South Texas humidity instead.
I’ve spent forints, euros and korunas and I haven’t been swindled by a shady businessman yet, Pa!
A Love of Reading
Dad, Mom used to tell me stories of how you used to read to me in the womb, and that my first word was “book!” which is what a pint-sized, gremlin version of myself used to shriek at you so I could get a bed-time story. This love of reading has been so useful in my travels. For instance, reading the signs while abroad has prevented me from getting lost, most of the time.
You were strict, sure, but the work ethic you instilled in me did more than just get out of the Rio Grande Valley, Dad. It got me to see the world. When I think back to all my experiences, to all the places I’ve been, it almost seems unreal. I can’t take credit for going to these places on my own. You were always there, supporting me every step of the way.
“my dad was able to prep me with the travel skills no guidebook can teach you.”
Whether it be the ability to laugh at yourself while lost in the middle of a strange city, avoid getting overcharged at cheap souvenir kiosks, or simply to possess the drive it takes to be a person who travels in a culture content to stay right where they are, my dad taught me so much about what it takes to be a traveler without ever spending money on a plane ticket.